From an Alice Neel investigation to a moving show on the art of still life, here are 9 museum exhibitions to see in Paris

As the debut of Paris+ prepares at the Grand Palais Éphémère, the city’s museums present a rich variety of visually and intellectually stimulating exhibits. Our roundup of nine shows confirms how artists continue to reinvent the wheel while drawing inspiration from artists born decades and centuries before them.

“Things – A Story of Still Life”
louver
Until January 23, 2023

Barthelemy Toguo The Pillar of Missing Migrants © Barthélémy Toguo ADAGP Paris 2022. Courtesy of the artist and HdM Gallery © Audrey Viger Musée du Louvre.

Soaring in the glass pyramid of IM Pei at the Louvre stands a towering sculpture of fabric-covered balls by Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo. Alluding to the migrants who perished during their journey (the play is titled The Pillar of Missing Migrants), the commissioned work illustrates how curator Laurence Bertrand Dorléac sought to extend what the genre of “still life”, or still life, can encompass today. “Things – A History of Still Life” brings together an incredible diversity of Bottle holder (1914/59) by Marcel Duchamp to the painting by Georges de La Tour representing Mary Magdalene before a candle.

Frida Kahlo: “Beyond Appearances”
Galliera Palace
Until March 5, 2023

Hand painted medical corset. © Museo Frida Kahlo – Casa Azul Collection – Javier Hinojosa, 2017

Taking us behind the scenes of Frida Kahlo’s life, this insightful exhibition explores the intimate questions that shaped and created the Mexican artist’s unique identity. More than 200 items from Casa Azul, the home where Kahlo grew up, including black-and-white family photos, hand-painted orthopedic corsets she wore due to her disability after contracting polio, a prosthetic leg, boots, and traditional Tehuana dresses. Kahlo’s husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, placed these personal items under seal after her death, and they were not discovered until 2004. Several self-portraits and a portrait of Kahlo by Dora Maar taken on Kahlo’s trip in Paris are also exhibited.

Alice Neel: “A committed look”
Centre Pompidou
Until January 16, 2023

Alice Neel, “a committed look” © Center Pompidou. Photo: Helene Mauri.

Mixed-race and homosexual couples, the unemployed and pregnant women fell under the inflexible gaze of 20th-century artist Alice Neel, a radical feminist who was also a member of the Communist Party. Yet, while his figurative painting went against the prevailing fashion of abstraction, pop art, minimalism and conceptualism, Neel’s work was largely overlooked during his lifetime. This exhibit seeks to elevate its place in the history of the art canon.

“Monet-Mitchell”
Louis Vuitton Foundation
Until February 27, 2023

Joan Mitchell, two pianos, (1980). Private Collection © The Estate of Joan Mitchell. Photo © Patrice Schmidt

American artist Joan Mitchell once said that she “admired the deceased but not the first Monet”. It is indeed with the fabulous paintings of the late period of Monet of his garden of Giverny that the vibrant works of Mitchell made with thick brushstrokes, several decadess later in Vétheuil near the Seine, are juxtaposed. What is immediately striking is how the two artists shared a similar chromatic sensibility in their palettes and a dedication to inventing new ways of representing landscape – Monet spoke of “impression” and “sensation”, while Mitchell was looking to express the “feeling”.

Mickalene Thomas: “With Monet”
Orangerie Museum
Until February 6, 2023

Mickalene Thomas Monet’s Water Garden (2022). Photo: © Mickalene Thomas © Adagp, Paris, 2022

In 2011, the American artist Mickalene Thomas is in residence with Claude Monet in Giverny. For this exhibition, she revisited that experience and interpreted the impressionist artist’s home with her own visual language – a rich collage composed of photographs of Monet’s garden as well as printed and painted elements outlined by Swarovski crystals. Another book referring to Lunch on the Grass features three black women in a celebration of female pride and power. A video work shows Thomas lying naked, intercut with fragments of Amedeo Modigliani’s famous nudes and abstract images, while a voice narrates the difficulties of growing up as a mixed-race woman.

Kehinde Wiley
Orsay Museum
Until January 8, 2023

Kehinde Wiley Woman Stung By A Snake (Mamadou Gueye), (2022). Kehinde Wiley / Ugo Carmeni

In the nave of the Musée d’Orsay is the magnificent monumental bronze sculpture by Kehinde Wiley representing a young man collapsed in the saddle of a galloping horse. Another sculpture depicts a male figure at rest, ivy snaking over his body – the pose is reproduced in a richly detailed painting of a figure dressed in a Louis Vuitton top, jeans and white Nike sneakers, reclining on a a rock in a landscape. Revisiting stereotypes of Western art, Wiley majestically recontextualizes classical pictorial forms while dwelling on violence, suffering and stillness.

“Inverting the gaze: arte povera and beyond 1960-1975: photography, film, video”
Palm Game and Prom
Until January 29, 2023

Giuseppe Penone Svolgere la propria shovel (1997) © Penone Archive.

The title of this show is taken from the work Rovesciare i propri occhi (Invert the eyes), 1970, depicting a young Giuseppe Penone – who was the youngest member of the Italian band Arte Povera – wearing mirror contact lenses he had custom made. Spread over two locations, the exhibition presents key works by Arte Povera artists, such as Michelangelo Pistoletto Sfera di giornali, a ball made of newspapers that he rolled through the streets of Turin, and his mirror paintings. It also delves into the work of lesser-known photographers who influenced or exhibited with Arte Povera artists, bringing a broader context to the radical Italian movement.

Cyprien Gaillard: “Humpty Dumpty”
Palace of Tokyo and Lafayette expectations
Until January 8, 2023

Reference for “Humpty/Dumpty” on view at the Palais de Tokyo. © Cyprien Gaillard. Photo: Max Paul, (2021)

Entropy and man’s quest to overcome it and failure are at the heart of Cyprien Gaillard’s double exhibition. From the restoration of the Eiffel Tower to the removal of the love padlocks from the Pont Neuf because they weighed down the bridge, Gaillard’s gaze is turned towards Paris and the attempts to beautify the city in view of the 2024 Olympic Games. The second part of the exhibition, at Lafayette Anticipations, focuses on literally trying to make a horological sculpture work again.

Anri Sala: “Time is over”
Trade Exchange – Pinault Collection
Until January 16, 2023

Anri Sala, The time is no more2021. Pinault Collection © Anri Sala / Adagp, Paris, 2022. Photo Aurélien Mole

Projected on a large curved screen in the rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce, Anri Sala The time is no more (2021) – an elegy to African-American astronaut and saxophonist Ronald McNair who never realized his dream of recording music in space as his space shuttle exploded seconds after liftoff. As with “Ravel Ravel Unravel”, which the Franco-Albanian artist unveiled in the French pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 2013, it is a fascinating exploration of the recomposition of sounds and images. Other new works by the artist are displayed in the showcases while older videos are displayed in the ground floor gallery and in the basement.

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